1. What should candidates expect from Oviedo’s online CELTA?
This is one of our first course participant's (Raquel) opinion:
“Being a firm believer in silver linings, I can most definitely say that this year’s silver lining has been the opportunity to participate in this program. Not only did it provide us with the training CELTA is famous for, but we also learned how to teach English and manage a classroom 100% online in a time when education is shifting, and probably for good. During the course, you will be taught to plan, develop and teach a lesson according to the highest standards there are, which will work both for in-person and on-line teaching. This particular program will specifically enable you to teach English on-line to a group of students, professionally and with ease. It is one of the best investments, in terms of time and money, I’ve ever made and one that I will benefit from for the rest of my career. Special mention should be made about the human talent behind this project: without the extremely professional, dedicated and very patient tutors, this story of success wouldn’t be possible. Every single detail is critical in a program this intense. From planning to support and everything in between, the tutors are on top of every aspect making sure the trainees achieve their goals. I encourage you to enrol and join this path of learning that will give you a backpack full of tools, experiences and knowledge worth the effort it takes to walk it.”
We are really moved by such feedback and it gives us even more incentive to develop an online programme which prioritizes human-to-human interaction. We are divided by screens and megabytes but we try hard to provide a welcoming, team experience for our trainees and approach everyone individually to discover their teaching style and to give them the teaching tools they need.
CELTA is an intense and demanding course so we design formats that help trainees prepare for teaching and write assignments at a more relaxed pace, with only as much screen time as needed and lots of opportunities to smile. We also have lovely groups of students who support their teachers as much as we do.
2. How did you find adapting the CELTA, traditionally a face-to-face course, from the classroom to an online environment? Any obstacles and how did you overcome them?
Our Main Course Tutor is an experienced CELTA trainer who had been teaching in the blended format for some time already, so the new aspect was the on-line TP which just followed the same principles. The biggest obstacle was to find participants who were willing to be students for the trainees’ TPs but little by little, we are finding more and more students who accept this format and are eager to take part in this new endeavour. In fact, right now we have groups of students who created a real bond and want to come back and enjoy the lessons and each other’s company.
As I said before, we want to ensure the trainees are not overwhelmed (as long screen time slots can be quite draining) so we tweak every single edition of the course based on our own observations and on the feedforward from our trainees. Also, we learn a lot from our Assessors who offer advice and new solutions. We love to learn – this is what teaching is all about.
3. Taking the CELTA Online is a different experience to taking the course in a classroom. Are there any differences with communication between students and tutors on the online CELTA?
One of the challenges of the on-line teaching-learning experience is being as close and supportive to the trainees/ learners as in Face-to-Face teaching-learning so we have put special emphasis on this and it has become one of our strengths. The tutors have managed to create a warm and caring environment despite the physical distance and every course they have been able to pass that on to the trainees for them to do exactly the same with their students which makes the Teaching Practice a most enjoyable stage of the course.
We use simple tools for sharing documents and we are in touch via emails and Whatsapp so everyone feels they can reach out to tutors and ask questions when needed. We also set ‘office hours’ on messenger apps to make sure trainees do not stay alert 24/7.
And, last but not least, we put a lot of effort into creating positive group dynamics. The people and how they feel are our main ingredients in the recipe for online CELTA success.
4. What is the teaching practice like when you take the CELTA Online?
In my opinion, CELTA on-line has more advantages than disadvantages and TP is one of the highlights. Normally, in F2F CELTA courses, students for the TPs are local people, generally monolingual. Now, the 100% on-line CELTA option, has opened a window to the world. In this new context TPs happen with multilingual and multicultural groups, which is both enriching and a great advantage. Teaching learners with different mother tongues makes the teaching-learning process more challenging, more meaningful, more practical and a much better presentation letter when looking for a job abroad.
As for the other aspects of TPS, in our CELTA programme we pay careful attention to the timetabling of the course, our TP groups have a maximum of 4 Trainees per Tutor so that we can schedule Guided Lesson Planning, individual Feedback and we offer unassessed TPs at the very start of the course so trainees can get used to teaching on ZOOM and build a strong rapport with students.
The lessons are just interactive and varied as in the face-to-face context. The trainees use slides in the first part of the course as visual support. Towards the end of the course, when they are more confident, we encourage more video-only interaction.
5. Other than Zoom, are there any computer programmes/websites that candidates should be aware of before taking the course?
The week before the course starts we send trainees micro-tasks which help them learn the basic functionalities of the applications we use for day-to-day communication: Gmail, Google Forms, Google Docs, Google Classroom, Google Drive and EdPuzzle.
And we provide ZOOM tutorials and video observations of lessons taught on ZOOM.
We do NOT overload trainees with a wide range of online apps because the focus is on effective teaching in an online environment, and not on the environment itself. We help trainees master the tool to the point when they ‘disappear’ for them during the lesson and they can focus on teaching and learning. This is turn, brings our online programme closer to face-to-face teaching.
6. From a technical aspect, what equipment is required for the course?
What you need is a regular computer or laptop with headphones and microphone (you cannot use a tablet for teaching), a good broadband connection and the basic word processing and presentation software (e.g. Word, Google Docs, Powerpoint, Google slides).
Each trainee gets a document outlining the TECH REQUIREMENTS before the course so they can check if their equipment is compatible.
7. What tips do you have to help candidates prepare for your CELTA Online course?
If I had to say one thing about the CELTA programme is that it is intense. Of course, you need a good level of English with good language awareness. You also need good learning and time management skills, and you most certainly need to be prepared to commit.
This said, we normally start our courses with the participants of the previous course giving advice and normally these are the things they mention: what you need the most is willingness to learn, a lot of empathy, you need to be receptive and supportive and you need to be willing to be part of a team. These are the qualities that will help you succeed.
Apply to take part in a free interview where you meet the tutor and you can ask them all the questions you have about the course. This conversation with the Tutor will help you decide if the course is something you are ready for!